President Trump tweeted Friday that a judge’s decision to not give Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl any jail time for deserting his post is a “complete and total disgrace.”
“The decision on Sergeant Bergdahl is a complete and total disgrace to our Country and to our Military,” Trump tweeted.
The judge, Col. Jeffery R. Nance of the Army, gave Bergdahl a dishonorable discharge, reduced his rank to private and said he must forfeit pay equal to $1,000 per month for 10 months. But he decided Bergdahl should not serve prison time.
Despite Trump’s anger at the outcome, his own comments may have helped lighten Bergdahl’s sentence. The defense attorneys argued that Bergdahl could not receive a fair sentence because as a presidential candidate, Trump repeatedly called him a “dirty, rotten traitor” and suggested he be executed or thrown from a plane without a parachute. Nance said he hadn’t been influenced by Trump’s remarks, but said Monday, “I will consider the president’s comments as mitigation evidence as I arrive at an appropriate sentence.”
In October, Bergdahl pleaded guilty to desertion and endangering the troops who searched for him. He left his post in Afghanistan in 2009 and spent five years in captivity by the Taliban. President Obama engaged in a prisoner swap to bring Bergdahl home in 2014.
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Write to Tessa Berenson at tessa.Rogers@time.com